Saturday, October 30, 2010

Slab Shopping

Michelangelo Granite
MTH and I went shopping for stone slabs for our kitchen and bath countertops today and, oh, what a treat! We visited Pental’s showroom in south Seattle where the warehouse contains literally hundreds of gorgeous slabs of granite, marble, and quartz—all so delicious-looking you could eat them!

We already have the following in mind for the bathrooms, but are still uncertain about the kitchens:

  •  Miss K’s bathroom countertop—white quartz (she chose the one with sparkles in it)
  • Our bathroom countertop—Michelangelo granite (honestly it looks more like marble…)
  • Mom’s bathroom countertop—something in a soft green

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Designing for Dogs

Lately I've started thinking about how to best accommodate our little Maggy the Wonder Pup (or Magpie as she is also called) in the new house. Living in temporary quarters has made it far too easy to let things slide as far as house rules and manners. All of us have gotten a little sloppy, but no one so much as Maggy who is still too young to have even acquired any manners.

How and where Maggy will fit in at the new house. Where will she sleep? Where will we keep her food? Will we have the discipline to always bring her in and out through the mudroom? (That's what it's designed it for, right?) Not having much experience with dogs, I turn to you, dear readers, for some advice.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shop(ping) Talk

Some people love to shop. Some people hate to shop. Because building a house involves a LOT of shopping, no matter which category you are in, you’d better have a strategy for getting all that shopping done.

If you love to shop, you run the risk of overwhelming yourself with the choices available. You’ll spend unbelievable amounts of time deliberating over each of the thousands of decisions that go into building and furnishing a house. Believe me, I know, because this is my shopping style!

If you hate to shop, you have other pitfalls to avoid. In your desire to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible, you run the risk of choosing items one-by-one without thought to how they work together as a whole. Or you choose too quickly and without enough information. This leads to regrets down the road when you find a better product or a better price elsewhere.

Building a house is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got to have a strategy for making it across the finish line with enough energy left to enjoy this creation of yours.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Love Framing!

Just as I was starting to become disillusioned and afraid this house would NEVER get built, along came the framers! If you ever want to feel like you are making progress in this world, get something framed up. In a matter of days—sometimes even hours—a whole building materializes in front of your eyes!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Starting Blue and Getting Bluer

From the photo here, I bet you think I’m going to talk about cost overruns. Well, I COULD, but I’m not. Not in this post anyway. No, I’m talking about a blue of another hue…

I’m getting the sense that the color blue is really making a comeback. I haven’t been this excited about blue—in all its permutations—since I was a kid getting to pick out my own paint color for my room (a lovely Alice blue by the way). Suddenly I’m obsessed with blue—soft and ethereal Nordic blue, deep and smoky blue-black, funky turquoise, and a lovely medium greyish blue referred to as “Titian blue” in a recent House Beautiful article.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spirit and Soul

Have you ever noticed how quickly a house recently emptied loses its “life force?” Each time I have left a home that I loved—an apartment I rented or a house I owned and sold—I’ve noticed that almost immediately after the last box is packed and carted away the place feels like a shell and no longer feels like “home.” This is a good thing since it helps ease the pain of leaving. You can’t mourn what no longer exists.

And I suppose this should also be a lesson in how it is people and experiences and memories that make a home, and not physical space or objects. But—material girl that I am—I don’t think this means the physical space and objects are irrelevant. There are houses that are inhabited fulltime and still never feel like home, and others occupied only infrequently that practically pulse with life. What is it then that gives a house its life force?

The Literary House

Here are some house and home quotes that I enjoy. Do you have a favorite house quote? How about houses from novels—what houses stand out as memorable from your favorite books? I’d love to hear about them. Have they influenced your sense of “home?” Please share!

“The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Basements, Cellars, and Scary Places, Oh My

All the houses I have lived in have had basements. Typical Pacific Northwest basements—dank, with low ceilings, prone to seepage and flooding, sometimes only halfway dug, and usually home to a sump pump in the corner sitting in a perpetual pool of smelly water. For these reasons and others, we decided to forego a basement in the new house, opting instead for an attic with view potential. But things have a way of turning out differently than planned...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

House Jewelry

For the last two weeks I have been literally and figuratively in the trenches figuring out downspout drainage for our site. To give myself a break, I stopped by Builder's Hardware Supply today to look at doorknobs. Now you might wonder how looking at doorknobs could be any more exciting than plotting drain lines, but I promise you it was.

Monday, July 5, 2010

An American House

When we started thinking about what physical form and stylistic expression our house would take, we were completely open--the house had only the barest outline in our minds and was virtually a blank canvas. Since we had already designed our Whidbey house in a traditional style with allusions to Danish and Swedish country houses, we were thinking about building something completely different--a contemporary house. Something in wood, but definitely modern in its spaces and circulation.

And yet, the more time we spent on our site, the more we realized that a modern house would not be the best fit--for the site, for the block, or for us.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Cement Man Cometh

We're waaay past the point of no return now. Old house is gone, site is torn up, and dirt is everywhere. It actually looks like we're building another Hoover Dam! How is it that soil expands so much once it is dug out of the ground? The footings are done, inspected and approved, and today (6/17/10) the walls are getting poured. The foundation looks enormous and, much as we feared, seems to cover the whole site. So much for that pastoral feeling in the back yard. It is really hard to visualize the project based on how it looks right now. I can walk through the spaces and know what the rooms are, but it all seems out of scale. I sure hope this changes once the foundation is done and backfilled. We can't even see the whole site at once right now because of the pyramids of soil everywhere.

My current preoccupation is figuring out whether to vent the crawl space or not. Who knew that crawl spaces were so complex and fascinating? (sic)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Preconstruction April/2010

 We applied for our building permit March 1st and it is supposedly within a day or two of being issued. Yahoo!  But even while waiting for the building permit, the site has been a beehive of activity.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back to the Beginning

How do you know where an idea comes from or when it starts? I think it is only in hindsight that it is easier to retrace the steps that built idea upon idea, and then decisions and commitments, until the original thought has been made a reality. Even then, it is hard to say where one idea ends and another begins because they are all so linked together. I have always dreamed of building a house. But when did the idea to build THIS house begin? And why on Sunset Hill?

Starting in the Middle

Welcome to my blog about building a house on Sunset Hill! I'm starting somewhere in the middle of the story, with a site already purchased, a design already created, a permit already issued, and a foundation already poured. A chronicle of those steps alone could easily have filled 100+ posts. At this point, there is no other option but to jump into the story and fill in the background as needed along the way.

The purpose of this blog is to create a record for ourselves of the process of building this particular house. If it is also of interest to family and friends who are following our progress, we'll consider this blog a success!